Waterdeep, also known as the City of Splendors or the Crown of the North, is the most important and influential city in the North and perhaps in all Faerûn. For this reason it is considered part of the Western Heartlands of the Realms, even though it lies 150 miles north of Daggerford on the shores of the Sword Coast. The city sits "slightly above the 45 degree north latitude line on Toril." The road to Waterdeep is well paved and well patrolled. The city is the hub of trading from the mineral-rich lands to the north, the merchant kingdoms of Amn and Calimshan to the south, the kingdoms of the Inner Sea to the east, and the sea kingdoms and traders to the west. Waterdeep authority extends between thirty to forty miles from its walls where over a million people make their home.
Waterdeep is named for its outstanding natural deep water harbor, and the city that grew up at this site has become the commercial crossroads of the northern Realms. More than 100,000 people make their home in Waterdeep. The city sprawls northward from the sea, spreading along the flanks of Mount Waterdeep, which used to be home to the Melairkyn, a mithral-mining dwarven clan, and the entire length and great depth of the mountain is riddled with passages and tunnels, most of which are still occupied by deadly creatures whose presence in the mountain pre-dates the founding of the city itself. The halls of Undermountain located beneath the city are a popular target for adventurers, who enjoy the close vicinity of the cities main taverns and temples where aid can be paid for through donations.
Waterdeep is built on the site of the ancient elven settlement of Aelinthaldaar, which gave way to a farming community of humans that developed into Bloodhand Hold. This was conquered and renamed Nimoar's Hold before the name "Waterdeep" caught on. Waterdeep was the most common name used by the sea captains docking to trade at the port.
Waterdeep was used as a trading site for trade activities between northern tribesmen and southern merchants from -1088 DR onwards. By 52 DR, permanent farms had sprung up in the area. The name "Waterdeep" (not as a city, but as a town) was used by the ship captains docking to trade at the port, and it was slowly adopted into common use. The city was truly established by 1032 DR, the year Ahghairon became the first Lord of Waterdeep, and the date from which Northreckoning is counted.
The city grew spectacularly, such that by 1248 DR both the City of the Dead and the guilds had been developed. The guild masters seized control soon afterwards, ushering in a period of unrest and bitter conflict known as the Guild wars. The Guild wars ended only when the two surviving guild masters brought in their own period of misrule. It was only in 1273 DR that the present system of government was instituted. This was the year that the Magisters were established and the secret Lords of Waterdeep were firmly reestablished. Since that time, the city has continued to grow and prosper.
Humankind and other races come from all over the Realms to earn hard coin in the City of Splendors. Over the years these successful merchants have set up guilds and themselves become nobility, supporting the secretive Lords of Waterdeep who police the city fairly, yet with a light hand, by means of the superb City Guard (soldiers), City Watch (police) and over 20 black-robed magistrates. As a result, Waterdeep is a place tolerant of different races, religions, and lifestyles. This in turn has encouraged commerce and Waterdeep has grown into a huge, eclectic city.
Waterdeep is ruled by a council whose membership is largely secret. These hidden Lords of Waterdeep maintain their identities behind magical masks, called helms and while they rule in public, none know the true identities of most of them. The subject of who the Lords are is a common topic of noble conversation, and some consider it a game to discover whom the Lords are, a game made more confusing by the fact the Lords themselves set their own rumors afloat.
Waterdeep is the start of several trade routes:
- The Long Road, the inland trade route to the north.
- The High Road, the coastal trade route to the north.
- The Trade Way, the trade route to the south.
Defense and justice
Waterdeep maintains two separate armed forces, the Guard and the Watch. The City Guard serves as Waterdeep's soldiery and its members staff garrisons, road patrols, and watchposts, and serve as bodyguards and gate guards. The Watch is the local police force and in addition to capturing criminals, its members settle petty disputes, give directions, summon medical and priestly aid, generally performing duties that promote the idea that Waterdeep is a city open to all who know how to behave themselves.
Waterdeep has strong walls on its landward sides and is protected in part by Mount Waterdeep on the seaward side. Mount Waterdeep is studded with watch towers and defensive positions, and patrolled by special guard units on flights of hippogriffs. Aside from this Waterdeep also benefits from a large native population of the adventuring class (including powerful mages, priests, and warriors) who are more than willing to deal with any and all miscreants who threaten their home city, and have done so in the past. This has often proved the City of Splendors most potent defense.
Waterdhavian justice is dispatched by the Magisters, who direct the common courts of the city. These Black Robes, as they are often called, are empowered to pass sentence. They are always accompanied by six members of the guard. Any individuals found guilty may appeal to the Lord's Court, ruled over by the masked Lords of Waterdeep, where serious cases are usually heard. Individuals bringing frivolous cases to the Lord's Court usually face stiffer fines than if they accepted a magister's ruling.
Other important factions
It is said that the Lords rule Waterdeep but do not truly run it. This is quite true, in that there are a number of other factions who make up Waterdeep. The most noticeable are the guilds - powerful merchant and craft organizations that control much of the life-blood of the city. Once, the guilds ruled the city, and it almost destroyed itself in a series of internal commercial wars. No one wants to see those days return.
A second important Waterdhavian faction is the local nobility. It consists of 76 families of varying degrees of power, most of whom can trace their lines to before the founding of Waterdeep itself. Many powerful names come out of Waterdeep, including the Amcathras (whose scion is now Lord of Shadowdale), the Cassalanters, wealthy moneylenders, as well as the Wands, a family of powerful and noble wizards.
Third, a rising merchant class exists outside the standard guilds. These are caravan and coaster operators, and they use Waterdeep as a destination for their caravan goods. More shops are offering a variety of different goods because of this growing group. The most notable of these new merchants is the retired wizardess Aurora, who has established a magical retail organization to supply a wide number of patrons across the North with specialized items.
A large host of adventurers flood the city at any given time. Some establish themselves as citizens of good standing and remain permanently, while others drift off for other climes or meet their ends in back-alley brawls. With the exception of the Gray Hands, secret societies such as the Harpers and the Red Sashes make up the closest thing to organizations drawn from this group.
Faith in Waterdeep
Waterdeep has a huge variety of faiths, and the odds are that if a deity is worshiped somewhere in Faerûn, it has at least a follower (or likely a wandering priest or two, and maybe a shrine) in the City of Splendors. However, there are only seven major temple complexes within the city. They are dedicated to Gond, Lathander, Mystra, Selûne, Sune, Tempus, and Tymora.
In addition to the temples, shrines to Silvanus, Mielikki, Chauntea, Lliira, Sharess, and Siamorphe (the last two are local divinities) can be found here. In addition, there are secret temples and hidden shrines to most of the dark gods, often hidden away beneath the streets of the city. These include churches to Cyric, Talona, Umberlee, Shar, Auril, and a wide variety of the Beast Cults, including the Cult of the Dragon. In the years immediately following the Time of Troubles, Waterdeep had an active Cult of Ao; however, this has diminished almost to nonexistence.
Thieves' guilds in Waterdeep
The last official thieves' guild in Waterdeep was destroyed in 1300 DR, and while there have been many claimants to that position and title over the years, there have been no groups of sufficient power to challenge the Lords of Waterdeep. Since the Lords are secret, no criminal knows if a trusted partner is truly on his or her side or not.
This is not to say that there are no thieves or crime in the streets of Waterdeep. Rather, crime here is random and dispersed, with no one leader or organization to command it. The most recent attempt was made by a crime lord named Xanathar, a beholder with a well developed secret network in his service. This network was savaged and Xanathar defeated through the actions of bold adventuring companies at the command of Lord Piergeiron. Whether a new crime lord comes to the fore remains to be seen.
Wards of Waterdeep
Since 1035 DR Waterdeep has roughly been divided into wards. The wards originally all had guards and walls in the manner of Procampur and other ancient cities, but the press of progress has toppled or bored through most of the walls. Only the walls and guards around the City of the Dead are still maintained. The wards of Waterdeep are:
- Castle Ward
- This central ward encompasses Mount Waterdeep and much of the government of the city. Here is located Castle Waterdeep, the place of government, as well as the Palace of Waterdeep (also known as Piergeiron's Palace), Lord Piergeiron's private residence. This ward is also a common place for retired adventurers such as Mirt the Moneylender to make their homes.
- City of the Dead
- This park-like area is surrounded by high walls. It is often visited during the day by wanderers and the odd picnicker. At night, the gates of the City of the Dead are closed, for it is Waterdeep's graveyard. The more important personages have their own personal graves or family shrines, while others are confined to larger crypts. The reason for the guards is not to protect the graves, but rather to protect the city from the occasional restless undead creature that does not appreciate its accommodations.
- Dock Ward
- As one might assume, the Dock Ward is situated hard on the Great Harbor of Waterdeep and holds the docks, shipbuilding yards and warehouses for the sea trade. The harbor is inhabited by mermen who keep the peace within their own aquatic city.
- North Ward
- Tucked in the northeastern portion of the city, North Ward is the land of the nobility and their villas. The moneyed classes make their homes here, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the lower classes by the docks and in Southern Ward.
- Sea Ward
- The wealthiest of the wards, Sea Ward contains many of the temples of Waterdeep, along with a good helping of the newer noble families and retired adventurers who can afford the odd villa or two. The Field of Triumph, Waterdeep's arena, is located here.
- South Ward
- Officially known as the Southern Ward, but only nonnatives refer to it as such, is a place of caravan masters and traders, for it is close to the South Gate, the opening to the Trade.
- Trades Ward
- Waterdeeps commercial section.
- Inhabitants of Waterdeep
- Undermountain, the great maze of halls inhabited by the Mad Mage of the Underhalls.
- Skullport, a shady city in the Underdark two miles below Waterdeep.
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 178. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 79. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 179. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ The surrounding region has a population density of over 200 people per square mile
- ↑ Joseph C. Wolf (1999). Skullport. (TSR, Inc), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-1348-7.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 29. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 180. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (1993). Volo's Guide to the North. (TSR, Inc), p. 152. ISBN 1-5607-6678-6.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 35. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 59. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 61. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 63. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 37. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 73. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 74. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 38. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 91. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 54. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 104. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 93. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- The City of Splendors: A Waterdeep Novel, the fourth book in The Cities series, by Ed Greenwood and Elaine Cunningham. Conspiracies run wild in the streets of Waterdeep. (Set in 1370 DR (prologue) and 1371 DR).
- Waterdeep the third novel in the Avatar series by Troy Denning, set during the Time of Troubles.
4th Edition D&D
- Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 194–199. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
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